While preaching yesterday in the second message of the "In Chains" series, the Lord impressed something on my heart to share with the second service crowd. In the midst of the worship time I began to think of the text I was about to share. "When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him." (Mark 5:6) The stament was made by the gospel writer of the man possessed with a legion of demons near the gentile city of Gadara. The man was not in a church or a temple. He had never met Jesus before. His life was not working out the way I'm sure he or his family had planned. So why was worship his first reaction to seeing Jesus?
Here's what I believed the Lord was trying to get across. Worship is not facilitated by externalities. Put another way, worship is not a product of what is happening around you. Rather real worship originates inside the worshipper. Worship erupted from the demoniac in sheer anticipation of his deliverance. In other words, his worship was based upon faith in what would happen and not what had already occurred. He was keenly aware how far he had slipped from what God had intended to where he was. Therein lies our problem.
Most of us have forgotten how far down He had to reach to pick us up. We have become so numb to being "saved" that we forget what it was like to be lost. Because we have forgotten, we begin to look for external stimuli to cause us to worship. When the stimuli fails to materialize, or materializes in a way that is not to our liking, we quickly go from worship to criticism. What happens is that believers become worship junkies looking for the next spiritual high. When one place doesn't deliver they are ready to look for the next. And when the next place is surpassed with another church who can offer another higher experience they go running to it for their next fix. All the while forgetting that worship is not about self. It is all about God.
The highs experienced in worship should come from the knowledge of the believer's amazing opportunity to kneel in the prescence of a holy God. The man who lived in the tombs could have never imagined that God's Son would make the perilous journey across the sea into a pagan culture just to meet him; but He did. Comprehending such truth drove him to his knees as soon as Jesus and His disciples landed on his shore. What were the conditions surrounding this encounter? Was it windy or cold? Was it raining or was the scene bathed in sunshine? We are not told because it did not matter. We complain because of the loudness of the orchestra or band. We are critical of the song selection. We bundle up because it is too cold or complain when it is too warm. All of these factors people complain hinder their chance to worship. Tell that to the man who just was freed from a legion of demons who has been living in the tombs. Or on second thought maybe not. You may not like his answer. The real conditions for worship that really matter are not external, but exist in the knowledge we have been forgiven much!